Not long ago, I was totally surprised to see a headphone sales graph. It is growing rapidly throughout the year! It totally inspired me to write this article. I will be reviewing my top pick headphones at different price ranges that sound great with iPad, iPod and iPhone. All of the headphones reviewed below, comes with an integrated mic & remote for supported iDevices. Without taking any more time, here we start: 5 Headphones Reviewed: Best For Apple iPad
My top 5 pick are as follows according to alphabet:
1] Apple Earpods
2] Sennheiser Momentums
3] Sony MDR-1R [Featured]
4] Ultimate Ears UE4000
5] Ultimate Ears UE6000
A quick theory on a few words:
Aggressive – Forward and bright sonic character.
Bright – A sound that emphasizes the upper midrange/lower treble. Harmonics are strong relative to fundamentals.
Detail – The most delicate elements of the original sound and those which are the first to disappear with lesser equipment.
Forward(ness) – Similar to an aggressive sound, a sense of image being projected in front of the speakers and of music being forced upon the listener. Compare “Laid-back”.
Highs – The audio frequencies above about 6000 Hz.
Midrange (Mids) – The audio frequencies between about 250 Hz and 6000 Hz.
Sibilant (or Sibilance) – “Essy”, exaggerated “s” or “sh” sounds in vocals. Sibilant sounds carry most of their energy through the 4Khz to 8Khz range, but can extend to 10kHz, depending on the individual. Sibilance is often heard on radio.
Soundstage – The area between two speakers that appears to the listener to be occupied by sonic images. Like a real stage, a soundstage should have width, depth, and height.
Sound Signature – The general sound of a headphone as a result of its frequency response (e.g. bassy, treblely, neutral, etc.).
V-Shaped – The description of a frequency response curve for a speaker or headphone. In layman’s terms it means more prominent lows and highs with a recessed mid-range, hence the “V” shape formed from such a sound signature. Similar to a “U” shaped response curve but is generally used to describe a more dramatic difference.
Warm – Good bass, adequate low frequencies, adequate fundamentals relative to harmonics. Not thin. Also excessive bass or mid bass. Also, pleasantly spacious, with adequate reverberation at low frequencies. Also see Rich, Round. Warm highs means sweet highs.
One of my top propriety after comfort & sound quality when I’m choosing a pair of headphone. Earpod’s build quality are rather mediocre. It is using similar material as on the original Apple Earphones. The cables are in between thick and thin. Good sense of thickness and do keep in mind that it is not free from tangles. You need not to worry about tangles as it ships with a case.
When you talk about comfort in the earphones/IEMs department, it is very specific. It depends on how you take care of it & most importantly, your ear shape and size. The Earpods fall of my ears sometimes unless I really spend some times to get the position right. Whenever I do, I find it comfortable. Probably the one out of two cons I have with Apple Earpods.
Apple did a really big step up from their old Apple Earphones. Most noticeable are the clarity & bass. The older generation hisses a lot especially with female vocals & it lacks the bass texture. Apple did a good job at tuning to sound for the Earpods. The lows which is the bass, are punchy and yet without much sibilance. Furthermore, it does not bleed or cover any musical instruments. Moving up to the mids where instruments & vocals are, it is rather recessed at some point although it does not affect the vocals. Female vocals are much clearer and stands out better. Highs are slightly emphasized but in a good way. Overall, not much hisses are produced throughout. Details are lacking but that is what higher end headphones are meant for. Soundstage are great for it’s price. All and all, it has a V-Shape sound signature.
Last but not least, is it comparable to higher-end headphones like what Apple said on their page? My honest response to the question is, yes and no. Will take the Kplisch Image One for example as both share a similar sound signature that is, v-shape. The bass on the Klipsch are better detailed, punchier and does not bleeds at the same time. Both have issue with slight recessed mids but I tend to suffer the lacks of mids more on Klipsch. In terms of details, Kplisch won but Apple Earpods are better in soundstage. Klipsch lacks transparency compared to Earpods.
Sennheiser Momentum is one of the best build quality headphone in its price range. It’s as if you are in a Bentley car. The headband and earpads cushion are made of real leather. This is something rare. The adjustable headband is made of well finished stainless steel. I am really surprised when I first see these headphone.
Some might like these comfort while some does not. I’m in the middle of both. Friends with M-size ears might like it. Friends with L-size ears might find these are Full-size Supra headphone. You might have to try before you buy if you think you have L-shape size ears. That’s all about width. Now the depth which I find it deep enough to prevent your ears from touching the drivers inside. Like most closed headphones, ears might get sweaty or/and warm after some times of listening music with it.
Real leather, stainless steel. What else do you need when you have both of those great materials? Still wanting more? Well, Sennheiser Momentum didn’t disappoint you. For those friends who love luxury design, these are great! It comes with two color choices. Brown or black with red colored cable. The black/red color version was just recently introduced during the CES 2013. The build quality remains the same as the brown color version.
These headphones pack with a handful of features. Detachable cable, hard carrying case and it comes with 2 types of cable; one with mic and remote the other without mic and remote. The star of these headphone features is it’s headphone jack. You can twist it to the right angle that you like. From 180 degrees to 90 degrees. You can even stop at 45 degrees that is best of both worlds. You no longer have to worry anything else about the cable. Well done Sennheiser!
Did I mention that these are one of my favorite closed headphone? If not, now I will share with you. As always, I would love to start from the lows. It’s well extended and satisfy basshead who is looking for good balance through out the music at the same time. The lows could have been fantastic if Sennheiser is willing to put in better control to it. Mids are warm like most Sennheiser headphones. The highs are great with good sense of sparkles. Nothing sound abnormal overall. No grainy sound detected. Details are good and soundstage can be lacking in classical music. For Pops, it is more than enough. Overall, I find this a very easy to listen headphone.
Ultimate Ears UE4000:
Not the best. It is built very similar to the popular Beats By Dr.Dre headphones. Mostly made of glossy plastic. If you got the black color version, be prepared for fingerprints on it. Coming down to the detachable cable. Designed to be tangle free.
I wore glasses and I personally do not appreciate the clamping force of most on-ear headphones. Fortunately, I didn’t suffer muchnwith UE4000. Moreover, the earpads are very soft and isolates sound decently. Sadly, ears gets warm after long period of listening.
Looks and feels like it’s brother, UE6000 except it is much smaller in size. On-ear design. It has 3 color choice. Black, white and pink. Really nice finish although fairly disappointed on the build quality.
Nothing much to add here. It comes with a carrying pouch, a nice detachable cable and a splitter which comes handy when sharing music. Very nice packaging and packed with a handful of features.
Excellent for the price! The bass are tight and impactful. Plenty of it to satisfy bass lovers. The mids are smooth and highly detailed. I could hear the finest notes in the music effortless. To my ears, it is much detailed than Sony XBA-4 that I used to love for it’s details. That being said, the UE4000 wins my heart for it’s beautiful details. The soundstage are not surround-like neither congested. Good sense of separation but lacks the last bit of surround. When it comes to the high frequency, it sound artificial. It don’t sound best with female vocals but because of it’s artificial nature, it sound great with instruments. Most importantly, no sibilance are heard throughout!
Ultimate Ears UE6000:
These are mostly made of plastic. This is what you would aspect from these days headphones to minimize cost per unit and weight in general. It’s earpads and headband cushion are made of soft leather to maximize comfort and help with passive isolation. One of the top propriety while sitting in public transport or walking on the street.
Earpads has surprisingly thick cushion to avoid ears from touching the drivers on each side of the ear cups and to help ears from suffering clamping force and pains after long term of wearing. Deep cushion are not enough for friends with L-size ears. These have a great sense of width that will fit L-size ears. Headband cushions areno exception too. As earpads and headband cushion are made of pleather, it does get sweaty and warm after a while under hot environment.
Something that modern people are looking for. These satisfy most friends who are looking for great style while on the public. Nothing much to say but excellent. It has 2 color choices that you can choose from that is white or black. Both have blue color in it. Fantastic job with color choice.
In the package, straight out of the box, you get a detachable cable with in-line remote and mic. Foldable design for easy portability and easily sits inside a pouch that is provided in the box. Active Noise Canceling that uses battery cells to power and it does cancel out plenty of noise. No worries! Ran out of battery? You can still run in passive mode. Excellent isn’t it? You don’t have to worry about power, tangled cable or not enough storage place in your bag. Great for modern lifestyle.
The main reason you purchase a pair of good headphone. UE6000 for example. Personally, I think these are designed more towards modern lifestyles from build quality to features and sound quality are no exception. It offers a V-shape frequency curve. Bass are well extended and Basshead need not apply. Well extended yet controlled is the reaso why UE6000 got popular. Stepping up to the mids, like it or not, it is recessed. As it goes higher and closer to the highs, it gets better and better. There’s very little grain in sound but it is still there. Soundstage is what you aspect from a closed headphone. Details are similar to UE4000. When in Active Noise Canceling, the soundstage narrowed down. Overall, it’s a good headphone for modern lifestyle and music.
The reason why I added in this section and separate this special headphone from the others is because of it’s unique combination of style and sound quality. I would not claim it the best headphone in the world neither the best in this review as all the 5 headphones here are targeted for different price ranges but it is the best headphone for the price ratio to performance and need not an amp to really shine. Here we go:
At first, I thought these were made of aluminum but after a few good number of research, I realized these are mostly made of plastic. It has however a good finish that looks and feels like aluminum. Headband and earpads cushion are made of pleather. Which I find it nice and comfy. Headband are easily adjusted with no doubts.
These have one of the best closed comfort headphone I ever tried. Wide earcups with a good sense of depth that prevent your ears from touching those exposed drivers inside. The cushions are soft. With wide rooms for air, these do not get warm or sweaty that badly after long term of listening.
I prefer these look over Sennheiser Momentum. It is however personal preference. One has luxury style the other has urban style. Depending on what you like but I really like this style.
When it comes to features, the biggest concern here is portability and durability. This has no exception. It comes with a carrying pouch. It folds flat for easy storage and the cable are detachable. Cables are not easily tangled too as it is thick. Overall, fantastic features thought not the best at this price range.
It will not make my cup of tea if a pair of headphone look good but don’t sound good. Sony MDR-1R fortunately, didn’t disappoint me. I would describe this sound as warm and neutral. The lows are less in quantity comparing to Momentum but better in quality. Mids are warm and detailed. Highs are very responsible and not at all aggressive. Grains are at its minimum volume causing great clarity throughout my audition. Details and soundstage are excellent. These are mainly designed for modern music, therefore when playing with some old classic music, I find it lacking in some aspects.
Apple Earpods: RM109
Sennheiser Momentum: RM1449
Sony MDR-1R: RM999
Ultimate Ears UE4000: SGD 159
Ultimate aears UE6000: SGD 319
Please do note that, everyone have different music taste and appreciate different sound signature. My taste might be valid from you. Take my review as a pinch of salt. It is best if you could audition it personally at a nearby shop. I would not recommend you to spend over RM500 on a new pair of headphone if it you are a first timer. Music are like food. When you are a baby, you can’t differentiate the taste of different foods. It takes you sometimes to differentiate it, same goes to music. The more you listen, the more you understand. The problem is, we take in food three times a day but we do not listen music three times a day, it takes time for ears to warm-up and brains to figure out, what type of sound signature you prefers better. Sweet or sour?
If you have any questions regarding headphones reviewed above, feel free to ask or if you have any different opinion from mine regarding the headphones reviewed above, do share at the comment section below!